Clear Creek

Today, the Kooskia National Fish Hatchery is located on Clear Creek about where the Looking Glass band's home camp on the reservation was.

Kooskia National Fish Hatchery, authorized by Congress in August 1961, was established to rear spring chinook salmon for release into the Clearwater River basin. The hatchery is located 1.5 miles southeast of Kooskia, Idaho near the confluence of Clear Creek and the Middle Fork Clearwater River.  

Across from the main hatchery is a new interpretive trail, called the "Mill Pond Trail".  The trail follows an old mill pond, which attracts migrating waterfowl and native wildlife such as white tailed deer, beaver, muskrat, pheasant, turkey, Canada geese, osprey and bald eagles.  At the end of the trail is an historic plaque, commemorating the Nez Perce war of 1877.  

Here the story is told:-

Looking Glass had selected this area on the reservation as his home camp at the Lapwai Council in May of 1877. His band normally came here every year for root gathering. After the killings on the Salmon River in mid-June, Looking Glass returned here to establish his neutrality. He knew that in a conflict between his People and the U.S. Army, his People would surely be the loser.

The evening of the 29th [of June] positive information is obtained that Looking Glass, who, with his people, had stood aloof from the hostiles, had been furnishing re-enforcements to them of at least twenty warriors, and that he proposed to join them in person, with all of his people, the first favorable opportunity...

With a view of preventing the completion of this treachery, I sent Captain Whipple, commanding his own and Winter's companies, and the Gatling guns, with instructions to make a forced march, surprise and capture this chief and all that belonged to him.

Gen. O.O. Howard
August 27, 1877

Although Howard's intelligence may have told him that Looking Glass was going to join the non-treaty bands, Looking Glass himself denied this allegation.

It was Sapalwit [Sunday] and some Indians had gone down to the Kamiah Dreamer church for worship ... when soldiers were seen coming down the mountain to the south and across Clear Creek. Immediately there was excitement throughout the village. I was in the tepee of Looking Glass where breakfast was being served with usual Sapalwit ceremony, conducted by the Chief... My Chief said to me, "You better go meet the soldiers and say to them, 'Leave us alone. We are living here peacefully and want no trouble.'

With this message on my mind, I mounted my horse, crossing the Creek and met the soldiers on the first flat of the hillside.... One man greeted me friendly in Nez Perce, and I gave him my Chief's message that we want no trouble and therefore had I come from my people.

But those soldiers would not listen. They seemed drinking. They came near killing me. I understood little English. One said to me, 'You Looking Glass?'" He jabbed me in the ribs with his gun muzzle. He did not hit easy! The first man told him, "Hold on! This not Looking Glass! Only one of his boys."

I went back and entered Looking Glass's tepee. I told him what the soldier said, and that maybe they want to have council. The Indians had seen the soldier strike me with his gun, and they said the soldiers wanted to kill their chief. This made Looking Glass afraid to trust the soldiers, and he did not go, but sent me again. Kalowet, an old man, could speak little English. He was selected to go with me....

He then raised a white cloth on a pole between Looking Glass's tepee and the creek, plainly facing the soldiers....

With Kalowet, I again rode up to the meeting place and said to the interpreter, "I am Peopeo Tholekt. Looking Glass is my Chief. I bring you his words. He does not want war! He came here to escape war. Do not cross to our side of the little river. We do not want trouble with you whatever!"

Kawan Kalowet also spoke for peace.... But those soldiers would not listen. The same one again struck his gun against me and said to the interpreter, "I know this lnjun is Looking Glass! I shall now kill him!"

Of course I thought I was to be killed.... But the interpreter told him that I was too young for Looking Glass, and the soldier was made to draw back his gun. Then the commander with two or three others and the interpreter rode back with Kawan and me across the stream. We stopped near the white flag and the commander said, "I want to see Chief Looking Glass."

Looking Glass was still in his tepee, and while we were having this little talk, there came the sound of a gun from the other side of the creek. Red Heart was sitting on the bank and a soldier fired across, wounding him in the right thigh, but not fatally wounded. At this, the white men whirled their horses and hurried to their own side of the stream, and the soldiers opened fire from the hillside.

Of course that settled it. We had to have a war.

Peopeo Tholekt
(Bird Alighting)

Capt. Winters and Lieut. Rains and a large majority of the soldiers were eager for the fight, but were held in check by the Col. Our boys finally became indignant and opened fire. They killed a few Indians, burnt their lodges, and drove off about a thousand ponies.

Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman

July 14, 1877

A woman ... with her baby wrapped to her back, tried to escape across the Clearwater north of the village. She never reached shore. Her horse was drawn under by the strong current and all drowned....

After the soldiers left, we returned to our ruined homes. Several tepees had been burned or otherwise ruined. Much had been carried away and many objects destroyed or badly damaged.... Growing gardens trampled and destroyed.

This was the regular home of our band. Some kept cows and had milk for their children, their own foods. These cows and their calves and a great many horses were driven off by the robber enemy

We had a plow and raised good gardens. Potatoes, corn, beans, squash, melons, cucumbers, everything we wanted.

Peopeo Tholekt

Thus, through the precipitate and uncalled-for attack by the soldiers, the Looking Glass band was radicalized and joined the other non-treaty bands. Strategically, Looking Glass was a very important addition because, as a buffalo hunter, he knew the route to buffalo country. For the next month, Looking Glass was the chief who guided the five non-treaty bands.



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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